Teaching English as a foreign language is a great way to see the world and earn your keep as you go, but you may be wondering “Where do I start?”
Due to its beauty, history, architecture, and low cost of living, the Czech Republic is rightly becoming an increasingly popular destination for qualifying and working as a teacher abroad. However, knowledge is your friend when it comes to moving abroad, so here are a few things you need to know before teaching in the Czech Republic:
Qualifications & Requirements
When it comes to qualifications for English teaching jobs in the Czech Republic, there are many different options. Some people choose to take an online TEFL course and some people choose to take TEFL courses in person in their home country before they travel. Whilst both of these options have their benefits, make sure you do your research, because with an online TEFL it can be extremely hard, if not impossible, to find employment in some countries, the Czech Republic included. It will be harder to find a teaching job in the Czech Republic with online certification alone, especially because you will be in direct competition with so many people who have become TEFL certified in person in the Czech Republic.
Earning TEFL certification abroad is becoming increasingly popular for many reasons:
- Becoming TEFL certifed in person in the country you plan to teach abroad in gives you hands-on practical experience with real students, which employers find extremely valuable.
- Qualifying outside of your home country also gives you the added bonus of walking in your learners’ shoes, and gives you the chance to truly immerse yourself in the local culture and get a head start on adjusting.
- You can also get a head start on interviewing for jobs. Many TEFL schools even run networking events and workshops where you can meet potential employers and make some great job connections!
- Teaching English abroad can also be a way to fund further travel. Once you have your TEFL qualification, you will be employable all over the world. So, if a new country takes your fancy, you won’t have to worry about where to start looking for jobs; you’ll be able to start applying for teaching jobs, because you’ll already be one step ahead. TEFL is even looked upon favourably by many volunteering organisations, if that is your preference too!
IMPORTANT TIP: When choosing a TEFL course, you want to try and find one that is accredited, because this is favoured by employers as well as meaning that your certificate is globally recognised; you’ll be able to hop all over the globe with teaching job opportunities wherever you land next at this rate!
The Czech Republic is an English teacher’s paradise! ESL job opportunities are around every corner, so there are many different options to suit your teaching preferences.
A very common choice is to work at a language school. In these positions, you’ll be teaching many different groups, giving you experience with different levels, ages, backgrounds, and lesson contexts and work on a flexible schedule. You may also be interested in teaching business English, working at a pre-school, or providing one-to-one lessons to people. Many companies hire teachers to come in and coach their staff for interviews and give English customer service training, while students will hire teachers to help them with their exam preparations.
The Czech Republic welcomes English teachers with open arms, because this global language is becoming more and more necessary for business, worldwide communication, and even personal relationships. With work and travel programs as well as study abroad programs becoming a huge priority for young people in the Czech Republic, the need to improve their English increases every day.
In the Czech Republic, teaching salaries are more than enough to live on. The cost of living is very low in the Czech Republic, which of course is reflected in the salary, but with apartments being relatively low cost and daily living costs not adding up to too much, you’ll have a nice sum left over each month for life’s little extras. Many language schools will have great benefits for their staff too, such as visa assistance, public transport reimbursements, Czech lessons, and referral bonuses!
Visas & Work Permits
Depending on your nationality, you may have to apply for a visa in order to live and teach in the Czech Republic. Upon entering this part of the world, you will be granted 90 days of stay as a tourist and within those 90 days you’ll have to start the visa application process. The process can take three to five months, so you won’t have it by the time the 90 days is up, but that will be okay as long as you have begun the process and organised your documents. The visa process can be quite complicated, but there are plenty of companies that can help you with every single detail and really take the weight off.
Regardless of whether you need a visa or not, you will want to get yourself a work permit (zivnostensky), especially if you are going to be teaching in the Czech Republic, as this may mean that you will be employed by more than one school or teaching your own private lessons.
You should also visit the foreign police within three days of arriving and then after getting your visa, to ensure they know you are safe and settled. Try to bring a Czech speaker, as it can be tricky to deal with the documentation otherwise! Speaking of the police, make sure that you have your passport with you at all times. Police officers can stop you and request to see it; not having it on your person could mean that you get yourself a hefty fine!
If you are planning on living and teaching in one of the Czech Republic’s bigger cities, you may be surprised to know that there really isn’t a language barrier. English is widely spoken in the Czech Republic, so you typically won’t have problems unless you are visiting some far-flung villages or talking to members of the older generation, and even then they may surprise you. You’ll find that most restaurants will have English menus and staff that can speak with you, and the same goes for most department stores, too.
However, don’t let that deter you from learning Czech. Whilst it is a notoriously difficult language, it is not too tricky to pick up the basics and being able to greet people (dobrý den) and say please (prosím) and thank you (děkuji) will go a long way. Czech people will appreciate you making an effort; they know it isn’t easy.
The Czech Republic is known for being picturesque and is the home to architecture that spans across the ages. Walking around Prague, you could even see Romanesque influences, Baroque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau all in one day!
Prague, in particular, has a thriving expat community, and teaching English as a foreign language in Prague has a life of its own. There are events in the city almost every day, and most TEFL course programs in Prague also run meet ups, so that you can make friends and settle in easily. Some bars in Prague run quiz nights for expats, and there are often play dates for families with young children, dog walks, conversation clubs, where you can practice the Czech language, and even expat speed dating.
There is no need to worry about what you’ll be drinking, Czech beer is hailed as the best in the world! With a pint coming in cheaper than a bottle of water, it is no surprise that the Czechs are the world’s heaviest consumer of beer; you’ll see why once you have your first taste.
With any luck, you’ll make some Czech friends and really immerse yourself in the Czech culture. It’s important to know that, when visiting a Czech person’s home, your shoes are not welcome, even if you are. You’ll be expected to remove your shoes at the front door, and you’ll often be given a pair of house slippers to walk around in. Definitely respect this custom and, if you’re funny about taking your shoes off, try to limit your social arrangements to public spaces.
In a country with such a high quality of beer, it makes sense that there are many occasions to toast one another! It is really important when toasting that you make eye contact as you touch glasses with one another. You’ll want to say “na zdraví” as you do it, which is the same as wishing someone good health.
When out and about and when using public transport you’ll want to try and keep your voice down. You will spot the tourists from a mile away, because you’ll hear them before you see them. Czech people are much quieter, so, especially when using the tram or metro, try to follow their lead.
Public Service Announcement: Ketchup is NOT free here!
So maybe this just put you off coming completely, and no one could blame you for that, but try to stick with us. There are many benefits to living and teaching in the Czech Republic, so the lack of free ketchup is just a small price to pay for an otherwise awesome experience. Most fast food places will charge you around 10 CZK for a ketchup sachet, so guard your loose change with your life; you never know, next time you’re in McDonalds at 3 a.m. it could be your saving grace! It’s not all bad news though, some restaurants will have it by the bottle, and you won’t have to pay any extra. Tip big in this case, not all heroes wear capes.
If you’re all about incredible beer, epic scenery and the chance to teach English abroad, explore Europe, and enhance your CV, then arm yourself with this knowledge and get ready to start your adventure!
This article was contributed by Smaller Earth, a company founded in 1999 with the aim of inspiring people to experience the world by providing them with handpicked international opportunities.